Following on from other DDoS attacks in recent days, yesterday another wave took down the website of AFACT, the Australian Federation Against Copyright Theft. This latest assault, carried out in the name of Operation Payback, also had some very serious unintended side-effects. According to AFACT host Negregistry, other sites it hosts were affected too. AFACT said those sites, some belonging to the government, numbered nearly 8,000.
During the last couple of weeks we’ve reported almost daily on the effects and aftershocks of Operation Payback. This action, largely consisting of coordinated DDoS attacks against those chasing down online piracy or seeking to profit from it, has taken in a number of significant targets.
Although the attacks against the MPAA and RIAA websites generated the most headlines thus far due to their profile in the United States, the attack with the most consequences was that against the UK’s ACS:Law, the notorious law firm that with its partners seeks to turn alleged infringements of copyright into a cash business. That business is now in shreds after ACS:Law bungled an attempt to bring its site back online and published its own email database to the public.
Last night, as first reported by Slyck.com, Operation Payback took aim at a new target, AFACT – the Australian Federation Against Copyright Theft. Although it took a little while for the site to go down, the attack eventually achieved its aims but now it seems that it also generated some serious unintended side-effects.
According to an announcement by AFACT’s host, Netregistry, “A DDoS attack began to take place at approximately 8:30AM AEST, with a group of hackers attacking the firewall by flooding it with connections attempting to take down all servers.”
Although referring to those charging their Low Orbit Ion Cannons as hackers is something of a stretch, and even though the attacks were eventually dealt with by Netregistry, according to Neil Gane from AFACT nearly 8,000 other websites were also taken down in the attack.
“A lot of these sites are small Australian businesses and Government web sites,” Gane told ITnews. “They have been affected by this senseless act.”
Currently Operation Payback is showing few signs that it is running out of steam. One has to wonder though. Although some will argue that there is a strong need for civil disobedience to draw attention to a cause where perhaps few are listening, things can easily take a different turn.
Although we have no cast iron evidence other than his comments, it’s believed that ACS:Law’s Andrew Crossley called in the police last week after he was harassed at home. He has since used the word ‘criminal’ to describe the actions against his website and few will disagree that taking down 8,000 websites, even temporarily and/or accidentally, is a serious affair. When some of those sites belong to a government, questions start to get asked.
Will Operation Payback continue as promised or will it stop of its own accord? Will it be stopped by force? Is it even possible to stop it by force, any more than it’s possible to stop people sharing files? Time will tell but one thing is certain. If Operation Payback was designed to generate attention, it has done that, in a very, very big way.